Applying Kolb’s Learning Theory to Library Instruction: An Observational Study


  • Chau Minh Ha Saskatchewan Polytechnic
  • Nina Verishagen Saskatchewan Polytechnic



Kolb’s learning theory, experiential learning, information literacy, library instruction, library teachers, professional development, teaching methods, post-secondary students, polytechnic students, nursing students



Objective – This article answers the following questions: does applying Kolb’s Learning theory to library instruction enhance student engagement and will it improve librarian teaching practices?

Methods – This observational study analyzed four forms of qualitative data to examine the learning experience of first year nursing students and the teaching experience of two Faculty Librarians. The four forms of data collected were: (1) post-class qualitative feedback to assess the students’ engagement; (2) library instructors’ shared teaching observations; (3) librarian peer feedback after observing each other teach; and (4) feedback from an instructional facilitator on the individual librarian’s teaching skills. Two distinct lesson plans were developed: Lesson Plan One was the first attempt at incorporating Kolb’s theory into practice and Lesson Plan Two was a refinement of Lesson Plan One. Teaching strategies were altered from one lesson plan to the next based on the instructional facilitator’s feedback. The role of the instructional facilitator was to guide the professional development of new instructors by providing them with information and feedback on their teaching skills.

Results – There were perceived improvements in student engagement and teaching practice from Lesson Plan One to Two. Although the students’ reported experience remained similar from one to the next, both the librarians and instructional facilitator felt the students were more engaged and the environment seemed more collaborative when following Lesson Plan Two. With the second lesson plan, librarian instructors experienced a positive transformation as teachers, becoming facilitators of learning rather than lecturers.

Conclusion – Incorporating Kolb’s theory into instructional practice resulted in librarian instructors perceiving a positive effect on both instruction and on student engagement in the teaching-learning process.


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Author Biographies

Chau Minh Ha, Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Library and Testing Services Librarian, MLIS, BSCN

Nina Verishagen, Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Library and Testing Services Librarian, MLIS, BA




How to Cite

Ha, C. M., & Verishagen, N. (2015). Applying Kolb’s Learning Theory to Library Instruction: An Observational Study. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 10(4), 186–199.



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